Sunday, 30 December 2012

Week 4: Mistletoe (Viscum album)

Mistletoe was @SpeciesofUK from 23rd to 29th December 2012.

There are over 1,500 species of mistletoe. Most are found in the tropics. They are parasitic woody plants that grow on tree branches.1

Only one species of mistletoe is native to the UK. This is the European White-berried Mistletoe, 'Viscum album.'

Mistletoe 'Viscum album'
[Source: James K. Lindsey]

Tuesday, 25 December 2012

Week 3: Eurasian Beaver (Castor Fiber)

The Eurasian Beaver was @SpeciesofUK from 16th to 22nd December 2012.

There are two species of beavers: the North American Beaver and the Eurasian Beaver. Eurasian beavers are sightly the larger of the two species, and have narrower muzzles and tails.  North American Beavers tend to build larger dams on bigger rivers.

By 1900, Eurasian beavers had been hunted near to extinction, with just 1,200 individuals left. Now, they are widespread from the UK to China and Mongolia.1

The Eurasian beaver is the world's second largest rodent after the capybara. Unusually for mammals, female beavers are (slightly) larger than males.2

Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Week 2: Common Ash (Fraxinus Excelsior)

Common ash was @SpeciesofUK from 9th to 15th December 2012.

Common ash belongs to the genus 'Fraxinus,' a group of 50-odd species famous for their 'helicopter' seeds.1 It is one of the most (3rd or 4th) common trees in the UK, and one of the largest, growing up to 45m tall.

Common Ash
[Source: Jean-Pol GRANDMONT]

The UK has 80 million ash trees covering 5% of our woodland.2 Ash is such a good coloniser of open ground it has attracted the nickname 'the weed tree.'

Monday, 10 December 2012

Week 1: Common Buzzard (Buteo Buteo)

The Common Buzzard was @SpeciesofUK from 2nd to 8th December 2012.

Common Buzzards are the UK's most widespread and common Bird of Prey.  They breed in every UK county.

Common Buzzard
[Source: Arend from Oosterhout, Netherlands]

Buzzard numbers are up dramatically since the 1960s, from 16,000 in 1966 to 70,000 now.1 This is linked to rabbits gaining resistance to myxomatosis in the 1950s. They spread out from the hilly woodsides of the north and west of the country to the flatter south and east in the late twentieth century, as this infographic shows.